What George W. Bush attempted to accomplish with the invasion of Iraq, in other words, [Obama's people] have sought to accomplish at a lower cost in blood and treasure — seeking a post-dictatorial paradigm with high-minded words and air campaigns and engagement with Islamist political parties. But they haven’t found what they’ve been looking for: Four years into the Obama era, America is as disliked today in much of the Arab world as it ever was under George W. Bush, U.S. embassies are under siege from Tunis to Yemen, and there is every reason to see the “Obama doctrine,” such as it is, as something of a bust.
4) But of course it isn’t clear at all what Mitt Romney would actually do differently. … Either way, though, it’s hard to discern a genuine alternative Middle Eastern strategy between the lines the Romney talking points. Which means that American voters are facing the same choice on foreign policy that they face on domestic issues: The incumbent’s approach isn’t working, but the challenger isn’t giving us much reason to be confident that he knows what we should do instead.
Yes. This. This is what I was trying to say the other day, but of course Douthat said it far better.
UPDATE: An Evans-Manning Award to JLF for this one:
This isn’t so difficult to understand. Both campaigns – and Americans in general – want to be loved/respected/feared. The Romney/GOP camp asserts “they hate us for our freedom” and insist a more belligerent posture will keep the rascals in check. The Obama/Dem camp wonders why our support for the Arab Spring hasn’t won us more friends and insist that our disappointment in their actions will shame them into acting more responsibly.
But in the real world, both couldn’t be more wrong and nothing either camp proposes will change things. Bottom line: “they” hate us because of who we are, the world’s hegemon. They hate our economic, political, and military power. But most of all they hate our greatest power: our culture. They see Western, especially American culture, as corrupt, hedonistic, blasphemous, immoral, and altogether too beguiling. Every concession to Western culture is a slippery slope to perdition. It’s a wonder more Americans don’t recognize this inasmuch as some of us spend so much time inveighing against the same evils, albeit without such a level of violence.